Death Driver's Last Night * Conspiracy Theories
The French Connection * Photos
That Night - After The Crash * Conclusion
Ever since Princess Diana's tragic
death on August 31, 1997, millions of words have been written and
spoken about what really happened the night she died, and why.
not unlike the murder of JFK, we will never truly know the whys
and wherefores of that night. To put things into perspective, let's
take a look at that fateful night.
WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT: THE ACCIDENT
At precisely 12:15 A.M. on Sunday, August
31, 1997, the security staff of the Ritz Hotel were alerted.
Dodi and Diana were ready to depart through
the rear entrance of the hotel. The green Range Rover and the
decoy black Mercedes (the latter driven by the hotel's senior
limousine driver) pulled out into the Place Vendome, circles
the square and then returned to their parking spots. The photographers
there were stymied.
Meantime, the second black 1994 Mercedes S-280,
with Henri Paul at the wheel and Trevor Rees-Jones in the passenger
seat, sped away from the rear of Ritz; Dodi was behind Paul,
Diana on his right, behind Rees-Jones. In the excitement, only
Rees-Jones fastened his seat belt.
It was 12:20 when the car
sped south on Rue Cambon, then went along Rue de Rivoli and past
the splashing, illuminated fountain and Egyptian obelisk of the
Place de la Concorde.
By the time the Mercedes was hugging the Seine and heading toward the underpass, the few paparazzi on motorbikes had dropped behind. Photographs of speeding cars (more to the point, of their occupants) are notoriously difficult to obtain at night; besides, the windows of the Mercedes were heavily tinted. Nor did any of these men wish to risk their lives by edging their bikes close to a speeding vehicle.
Hence, the "Paparazzi killed Diana"
theory turns out to be bull.
By the time Henri Paul and his passengers
entered the Alma tunnel, the photographers were almost a quarter
mile behind, keeping the car in sight but not endangering themselves
by approaching the speeding Mercedes. It would be enough to arrive
at Dodi's apartment, where several other colleagues of the pursuing
paparazzi had already been alerted.
But another limousine driver entered the tunnel
not far behind Paul, and this driver made a sworn statement of
what happened---events that occurred within a few seconds, changing
the course of countless lives and, it may be said without hyperbole,
altering the course of late-twentieth-century history. The driver's
account, it must be said, was in every way supported by police
and by later forensic investigations of the site. And it is important
to add that all police and official investigations discounted
the proximity of paparazzi with blinding flashbulbs, on motorcycles.
Paul entered the tunnel on the left of two
lanes and speeding at sixty to perhaps eighty miles an hour,
which is not at all unusual in European cities---and then he
found his car was behind a slower vehicle. Careful though this
driver might otherwise have been, it is easy to imagine Dodi
urging him on: "Faster! Lose them! Go on!"--- as friends
and colleagues recalled, he usually did. Life was a chase Dodi
wanted to win, a game in which he wanted both to be in the limelight
and to retain his privacy. Henri Paul, in a healthier condition,
may well have been more cautious, but as Claude Luc said, Fayed
employees did what they were told---period.
Paul veered the Mercedes to the right, to
pass the car ahead of him in the left lane. But then everything
went out of control, and the right rear of the Mercedes swerved
and hit the right wall of the tunnel with a loud crash. Attempting
to correct the situation, Paul turned sharply left---and within
seconds the Mercedes crashed into one of the reinforced concrete
dividing pillars that separated the lanes from oncoming traffic
and also supported the roof. The time the sound, like an explosion,
was nearly deafening.
The car ricocheted again, hurtling across the drive and
spinning around before coming to a full stop. It has been immediately
reduced to a barely recognizable mound of steel: the front end telescoped
into the engine, which was forced almost through the driver's seat.
Inside the pile of rubble, Henri Paul and Dodi al-Fayed were dead,
their bodies hideously mangled. Trevor Reed-Jones was seriously injured,
but Diana, Princess of Wales, was near death. It was 12:24 AM.